U.S. Troops Tracking Iranian Forces Aiding Shiite Militias in IraqSunday, August 19, 2007
BAGHDAD — American forces are tracking about 50 members of an elite Iranian force who have crossed the border into southern Iraq to train Shiite militia fighters, a top U.S. general said Sunday. In east Baghdad, a mortar barrage slammed into a mainly Shiite neighborhood, killing 12 and wounding 31, police said, and a major battle raged north of the capital where residents of a Shiite city were fighting what police said was a band of Al-Qaeda in Iraq gunmen.
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, whose command includes the volatile southern rim of Baghdad and districts to the south, said his troops are tracking about 50 members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps in their area — the first detailed allegation that Iranians have been training fighters within Iraq’s borders.
“We know they’re here and we target them as well,” he said, citing intelligence reports as evidence of their presence.
He declined to be more specific and said no Iranian forces have been arrested in his territory.
“We’ve got about 50 of those,” he said, referring to the Iranian forces. “They go back and forth. There’s a porous border.”
The military has stepped up allegations against Iran in recent weeks, saying it supplies militants with arms and training to attack U.S. forces.
Iran denies the allegations and says it supports efforts to stop the violence.
The Bush administration is moving toward blacklisting Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a “terrorist” organization, subjecting at least part of the entity to financial sanctions, U.S. officials said this week.
A decision has been made in principle to name elements of the corps a “specially designated global terrorist” group, but internal discussions continue over whether it should cover the entire unit or only the Guard’s force, the most elite and covert of Iran’s military branches, which has equipped and trained Muslim fighters outside Iran’s borders.
Lynch, whose mission is to block the flow of weapons and fighters into the Baghdad area, said Sunni and Shiite extremists have become increasingly aggressive this month, trying to influence the debate in Washington before a pivotal progress report on Iraq.
He singled out the Shiite extremists as being behind rising attacks using armor-piercing explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, which he said were largely assembled in Iraq from parts smuggled in from Iran. He also noted a marked increase in Iranian-rockets that have been increasingly effective against U.S. bases.
There has been an overall decrease in attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces, as well as civilians, south of Baghdad, but 46 percent of those were being carried out by Shiite extremists, Lynch said.
“The real difference now is we’ve got to spend as much time fighting the Shia extremists as Sunni extremists,” he said.
If Iran’s foray into Iraq wasn’t apparent before now, this report should clear that up. The question is, what are we going to do about it, besides ‘blacklisting’ Amadinijhad’s thugs as terrorists. Thanks for stating the obvious, Mr. President. Time to lob a few bombs at Tehran.
Executing this war piecemeal is not tactically or strategically sound. Ideally, we would adopt a policy of annihilation in response to attack against this country. It’s simple: If you attack us, you, your relatives, supporters, and pet dog will be taking a dirt nap. We will flatten your terrain and let WalMart have a field day.
Someone in the military hierarchy if not the Whitehouse has to realize that this war could be considerably shortened had we not limited our efforts to just two fronts on the battlefield. What happened to the “shock and awe” we were supposed to dish out? We already know that neighboring counties of Iraq and Afghanistan serve as havens for al Qadea, the Taliban, and hundreds of other terrorist organizations. What the hell are we waiting for?